Novozymes launched Fiberex, a comprehensive platform based on novel enzymes and yeast strains to convert corn fiber into ethanol. Fiberex is specifically aimed at breaking down tough fibers in the corn, providing producers with greater operational flexibility. The technology converts a low-value by-product into high-value, low-carbon fuel while also enabling the production of significantly more corn oil.
The Fiberex platform consists of biological solutions that work in various stages of the ethanol production process.
Through Fiberex, Novozymes is collaborating with the biofuel industry further to expand the boundaries of corn-based ethanol—literally breaking down some of the barriers between what is considered conventional biofuels and advanced biofuels.
Most ethanol currently is made from the starch in corn kernels; the fiber is much more difficult to use, being a complex matrix consisting of cellulose, hemicellulose, starch, protein, oil, and minerals.
The cellulose is rigid and partially crystalline in form while the hemicellulose is highly branched and amorphous. Novozymes’ Fiberex enzymes are specifically designed to break down this complex matrix, resulting in more corn oil and converting the fiber into simple sugars that are easily converted into ethanol.
As part of the platform announcement, Novozymes launched the first Fiberex products: Fiberex R1, a technology specifically designed to provide maximum ethanol in separate fiber-to-ethanol processes; and Fiberex F1, a cellulase enzyme designed to provide fiber conversion for in-process technologies.
Additional solutions, to launch in 2021, are in proof-of-concept trials now.